|Changes in car and truck sales in May for the top six vendors in the US. Click to enlarge.|
Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US were relatively flat in May 2006 compared to the prior year, reflecting a slight 0.7% decline in total units. However, within that total number, car and light truck performance varied widely.
Total car sales increased 6.4% to 731,739 units, while light truck sales dropped 6.7% to 757,925 units. The car-truck ratio is now 49:51. In May 2005, that ratio was 46:54.
Within that larger shift, General Motors took the worst pounding in the month, with total sales down 12.5% (not adjusted for sales days); car sales down 16% and light truck sales down 10.1%. GM was one of only four automakers to see a reduction in car sales from the prior year, the others being Chrysler, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Even the new Tahoe, which has been buoying GM sales in prior months (earlier post) fell relative to the prior year, with sales dropping 1.5% (not adjusted for sales days). One bright spot for GM was the performance of its luxury SUVs, which increased sales 34% compared to year-ago levels. Total HUMMER sales were up 60%. Cadillac Escalade sales rose 56% in May, paced by continuing brisk demand for the all-new 2007 model. Cadillac Escalade ESV sales started strong with 1,097 sold.
GM’s car-to-truck ratio in May 2006 was 38:62, compared to 40:60 in May 2005.
Ford’s experience was more reflective of the general market trend. While sales of its light trucks dropped 6.6%, sales of its cars increased 6.4%. Overall, Ford light duty sales dropped 1.9%. Its car-to-truck ratio sales increased to 40:60 in May 2006 from 36:64 in May 2005.
Ford has been having particular success with its Fusion—the new mid-size sedan. Fusion posted its best sales month ever in May with sales of 14,940, an 18% increase over the previous best month (April). Combined sales for the company’s new mid-size sedans (Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr) were 20,267, the first month sales eclipsed 20,000.
Sales of the Ford Focus increased 13% in May 2006 from May 2005, with 20,391 units.
The Chrysler group came in close behind GM for having the worst month. Total sales were down 11.2%, with cars dropping 1.2% month on month and trucks down 14%. Bright spots for Chrysler were the new Caliber, with sales of 12,422, and the Charger, with sales of 10,725. Chrysler’s car-to-truck ratio in May 2006 was 27:73, compared to 25:75 in May 2005.
Toyota, by contrast, had its strongest month ever. Total sales increased 17%, reflecting its overall best monthly sales; sales of cars increased 25%, while sales of light trucks increased 6.6%.
The pinch at the pump has made small cars part of the big picture, right along with hybrids. The market is healthy, though shifting.—Jim Lentz, TMS Group Vice President and Toyota Division General Manager
Toyota’s car-to-truck ratio in May 2006 was 61:39, up from 58:42 in May 2005.
Honda also had a great month, with total sales increasing 16%. Cars sales were up 21%, while truck sales were up 13%. Honda’s car-to-truck ratio was 60:40 in May 2006, up from 57:43 the year before.
Nissan saw its total sales drop 7.3%, with cars down 7.7% and trucks down 6.8%. Nissan’s car-to-truck ratio dropped slightly to 55:45 in May 2006 from 56:44 in May 2005.